Thursday, April 19, 2007

Spirit of Life

Spirit of Life is a festival happening on May 7th (May Day) at Coventry Cathedral. Okay its quite a distance from Yeovil, but I'm hoping it'll be worth the journey.

What is it? A Mind, Body and Spirit -style festival, but with a Christian rather than New Age core, so that spiritual seekers get the chance to explore following Jesus but without it coming in the normal 'church on a Sunday' packaging. Here's some examples of what's on offer:

Angels, Halos, Animal Blessing, Healing through touch, Icon making, 'Soul art', Storytelling, Mystery of Creation, Sacred Prayer beads, Holistic therapy, Dream interpretation, and so on - 60 workshops, seminars, zones or activities in the amazing setting of Coventry cathedral.

It would be normal for the average Christian to look at the seminar list and go 'what has any of this got to do with Jesus? Sounds like a load of New Age mumbo jumbo to me?', but maybe that's the whole idea. Jesus, Paul and the other early missionaries were great at taking great spiritual truths and putting them into everyday language.

Trouble is we're so used to certain bits of language being used that we've confused the words themselves with the message we're trying to convey. Take 'gospel' for example. The word meant 'royal proclamation' in its 1st century context, so if you said 'I'm bringing you the gospel about Jesus' you're immediately raising the temperature, because any royal proclamation which wasn't about Caesar was an act of treason. Nowadays we've lost the context, but still use the word 'gospel' as though it's a magic word with special power.

The research from TEAR Fund released a couple of weeks ago (which found that 75% of former churchgoers and 95% of 'never been' churchgoers wouldn't go to church even if their best friend asked them nicely) shows that many people percieve 'church' in a negative way. We don't want to scrap the church, and many folk who join one are pleasantly surprised. But another tactic is to try to say the same thing in a different way. Coventry Cathedral are trying to do this for spiritual seekers - for the 50% or so of the population who believe in God, think there might be something in this angels business, have had a supernatural experience and occasionally pray.

So, if you live in the Yeovil area and fancy a May Day bank holiday day out with a difference, let me know, there's spaces in the car......

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